The Africa Online Safety Fund (AOSF) has announced the winners of this year’s grants, among them five organisations operating in South Africa:
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change, City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services, Global Leading Light Initiatives, Media Monitoring Africa, and Wolfpack Information Risk.
South Africa had five winners, followed by four each for Kenya and Ghana. Nigeria, with six winning grantees, had the highest number of awards. Cameroon, Somalia and Zimbabwe each had one winner.
Although the winning organisations reflect seven countries their internet safety interventions span across 15 African countries in total.
Just over 350 applications were received in the 2023 cohort, from which a shortlist of 40 entries made it for the final selection process. Each of the eventual winners will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, made possible with the support of Google.org.
Making the announcement, Impact Amplifier Director, Tanner Methvin said, “With over 500 million people having access to the internet in Africa, reflecting just under 40 per cent of the continent’s population, online safety issues are of critical concern.”
The AOSF, Methvin said, supports innovative approaches to addressing the complex safety issues the internet presents. “The winning innovative solutions range from unique ways of combating mis and disinformation, establishing investigative teams to track cyber criminals, supporting journalists targeted with hate speech and bullying, integrating online safety training into school curriculums, and much more.”
The AOSF offers grants to organisations throughout Africa that address one or more of the safety issues the internet facilitates. It is however focused on four primary countries: Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa in this funding round.
There are three categories of funding:
Transformative projects are intended to be larger in scale, reach multiple geographies and/ or potentially large numbers of beneficiaries, and be scalable as a solution.
The Maturing projects are intended to test ideas at a larger scale, try new ideas within existing projects, and reach new audiences. The Catalytic projects are intended to be smaller, targeted, and potentially only locally or culturally specific.
Transformative projects are a maximum grant of $50,000, Maturing projects up to $25,000, and Catalytic projects $10,000.
In addition to announcing the winners of the AOSF awards, Impact Amplifier, again with the support from Google.org, is developing the first Africa focused online safety research, education and support platform.
Funding solutions to online safety since 2021, Impact Amplifier has realized that the only way to combat the scale of this challenge is by creating an ecosystem approach.
Part of developing this ecosystem involves centralising some of the key tools needed for support.
To this end it is developing an online platform, which aggregates all the research which has been done regarding online safety in Africa, making this key knowledge available to policy makers, civil society, academics, business and the general public.
Additionally, the platform will be hosting education materials to teach children and adults alike how to protect themselves online.
This content will include curriculum, testing materials, evaluation tools, and general awareness content, enabling anyone interested in learning how to protect themselves or others with easy access to all the content they need.
Finally, despite our best protection efforts, online violations occur. Once someone has been the victim of an online crime or violation getting help is hard to navigate.
To address this, the platform will centralise all the ways that people can seek support no matter where they are in Africa. This new platform will be launched in February 2024.
About the South African winners:
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) identifies, analyzes, and counters online mis/disinformation and divisive rhetoric through advanced social media analytics and multidisciplinary expertise.
CABC wants to develop and pilot a Peer-to-Peer Aid and Support Platform (PASP) for South Africa, fostering active citizenry, local cooperation, and social cohesion through a virtual platform that facilitates peer-to-peer learning, engagement, and actions, while countering disinformation.
City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services provides access to physical and digital collections, digital literacy programs, eLearning services, and technology to support the community's education, safe interaction, and digital inclusion needs.
The organization plans to conduct mobile literacy workshops for librarians and the public, both in library spaces and virtually, targeting youth and adults across all regions, while also running mobile literacy campaigns using social media to educate the community about internet safety, job scams, and fake news.
Additionally, they will carry out mobile literacy competitions annually, emphasizing digital literacy and the ability to discern fake news and jobs.
Global Leading Light Initiatives (GLLI) operates in South Africa, Kenya, and Cameroon. It is committed to eradicating poverty in marginalized communities by promoting the secure adoption of technology and fostering entrepreneurial growth.
Its SurfSMART project focuses on student-centred internet safety clubs that empower young people to protect themselves against various online threats, internet safety workshops facilitated by trained agents, teachers' training workshops, cyber parenting workshops, and media campaigns, reaching over 2 million students, parents, and teachers in historically disadvantaged communities in the three countries.
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) leverages its extensive experience to promote ethical journalism, children's rights in the media, and the development of a responsible and critical media culture in Africa.
It emphasizes meaningful child engagement, while also contributing to various fields such as children's rights, gender, media development, and internet governance to safeguard children's interests and promote a just society.
The firm's Advance Media Literacy Programme (AMLP) aims to empower and capacitate 20 Grade 7 and 8 learners in Gauteng to improve the portrayal of children's rights in the media, including social media. The AMLP involves training child monitors in digital literacy, educating them on media production, and supporting them in monitoring and engaging with media and government officials for enhanced children's representation.
Wolfpack Information Risk provides cybersecurity, privacy, resilience consulting, training, awareness, and talent management solutions across Africa. Wolfpack plans to establish the Cybercrime Operational Behaviour & Response Alliance (COBRA) to bridge the gap between cyber investigators and victims of cybercrime.
A cyber investigator and victims’ platform will be established, which will allow investigators to collaborate, gain skills, and take on cases.
Victims of cybercrime will be able to log their cases, access information about different types of cybercrime and get their case assigned to a cyber investigator who will then provide free assistance to the victim up to the agreed service level.
This process will allow a new team of cybercrime fighters to support the growing community of victims who currently have no or limited access to support in Africa and South Africa.